West St. Paul City Council Member Ed Hansen faces criminal charges for allegedly trying to thwart the sale of a home next to his and attempting to undermine a city redevelopment project by offering to buy the property himself.
Hansen, 42, was charged in Dakota County District Court on Monday with misconduct as a public officer, a gross misdemeanor, and for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.
The gross misdemeanor charge stems from his alleged attempt to derail a city redevelopment project by offering to buy the property from the developer who bought it from the city. The city's Economic Development Authority (EDA) approved plans in January 2011 for a house to be built on the site, next to Hansen's home at 1010 Felix St. Hansen voted against the project.
"Hansen was aware that any sale of the property would need to be approved by the EDA," the criminal complaint says. "Despite this knowledge, after the vote passed Hansen contacted the developer and offered to buy the property. The developer declined the offer."
Hansen also allegedly approached the general contractor of the project in November 2011, yelled and swore at him, and told him he wasn't going to allow the house to be built.
The second charge rises from Hansen's alleged interference with real-estate agents' showings of a neighboring residence in June. The charge said he engaged in offensive, abusive, obscene, boisterous and noisy conduct. Hansen allegedly entered the home uninvited during one showing and questioned the potential buyer about plans for the property. When told the buyer was considering using the house as a rental, he threatened to make sure he'd never get a rental permit, the charges say.
Hansen is to answer his summons in court in the next 30 to 45 days. County Attorney James Backstrom said the case is unusual in that "we are not asked to investigate public officials very often."
Conviction on the gross misdemeanor would carry a penalty of up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $3,000. Conviction of the misdemeanor could result in jail time of up to 90 days and a fine of up to $1,000.
West St. Paul Mayor John Zanmiller declined to comment. In July, the city council censured Hansen and urged him to resign, but he has refused. His removal would take a recall action by the residents of West St. Paul.
Laurie Blake • 952-746-3287